In late 2019 On Tour Events were asked by a creative events company based in Bristol to design & supply the stage and production for the worldwide brand Virgin Atlantic.
Let us discuss firstly the requirements of our client and how we went about designing the production for the event, then moving onto the equipment installed, finishing off with feedback from our client and in turn a summary of the event.
The client came to us with a blank canvas, holding a Christmas party over 2 nights in a huge marquee. They were opting for a no sit-down meal, finger buffet & bar- what all good parties should be, getting together for a drink, dance and to enjoy, very informal in an exceptionally large space to do so. They really wanted to provide a fun, let your hair down experience with the wow factor for the guests.
In order to accomplish this, they were after a variety of production elements all which we could supply in house. They wanted furniture for seating, LED bars for serving the drinks and food, LED video screens displaying their client’s corporate visuals, the live acts & audience and of course sound and lighting for the marquee. In addition to this they also required a stage for the band/ DJ to perform from.
To give you an overview of what the event was, it was for a Christmas party held in a 60m deep x 30m wide temporary structure, essentially it’s a marquee but we will call it a temporary structure as it is slightly different to your average marquee and is classed as a temporary structure. Within this space we had to supply 20m of custom bar with a central round bar in the middle. A seating area to seat 200 guests was also required but with a twist, all the seating benches and cubes they wanted to light up, so it had to be done with LED furniture.
The entertainment was to run from 6pm- early hours of the morning across 2 evenings, with background music playing whilst the finger food was being served and then the live music to follow from 11pm onwards. The live entertainment consisted of DJs and a 10-piece band.
The marquee was to be divided into 3 sections:
Long bar serving food and drinks
Round bar serving drinks
LED furniture seating area
The 20m bar was lit up and custom made which gave a very impressionable impact on the employees as they walked into the marquee. In the centre was an 8m round cocktail bar which was an addition for serving refreshments in a quick fashion something the client had mentioned to us was quite important to the event running smoothly. Emphasis was on the employees having fun and enjoying themselves so making a sensible and effective way of getting drinks was imperative, hence the round bar option which worked really well. Both bars were branded with Virgin Atlantic corporate colours.
There was a large stage performance area, making sure from a production point people were kept intrigued and engaged throughout the evening therefore the music being played was a big part.
If you are reading this blog you probably understand the importance of good production which can be overlooked in some cases.
When you have a 10-piece band you need a big stage! A 10m wide x 5m deep custom stage was built with black hand pleated drape across the front, 2 sets of steps at the back, finished with a custom carpet representing the company’s corporate colours. Safety is of key importance to us at On Tour Events so the staging had suitable hand railing at the sides and appropriate steps to allow people on and off the stage. The stage being the size it was certainly made a statement and comfortably supported the band when they were performing.
Getting a 10-piece band on/off the stage is not quick! So, we liaised with the event organisers and briefed them on time frames in between sets. The band needed an hour and a half for rehearsals per day, which cut into our set up time allowance but that wasn’t a problem as we factored this into our debrief with our crew before getting to the site for rigging. Our moto was to work with the artists needs rather than against which makes everything run smoother and most importantly eases the pressure from the event organiser (our client).
Our client made it clear that the band they had hired required a very high-end clear sounding PA system. Luckily, we stock a trusted, well known high quality worldwide brand of speaker- d&b Audiotechnik so were confident the band and DJ would be more than happy with the sound we were supplying. After suggesting this to the client they presented us with the band’s rider and one of the requirements were specifically for d&b Audiotechnik, so that was a tick in the box!
As it is a versatile system, we supplied a main PA system for the stage area and then distributed speakers around the marquee to ensure production was heard from all corners of the marquee.
We also supplied a Midas M32 digital mixing desk with multicore, 6 x d&b Audiotechnik M4 monitors and a pack of Shure wired microphones to adhere to the bands specifications.
For the DJ we supplied a pair of Pioneer CDJ 2000s and Pioneer DJM 900 mixer, the DJ was happy to utilise the same PA and pair of monitors that the band were using.
In front of the stage was a huge 40ft x 40ft white LED starlit dance floor. This was a request by the production company and a big part of polishing off the overall look as they had a dance floor previously which was slightly smaller their client insisted on this. To be fair although it isn’t something we would normally recommend as it is very time consuming to set up, it is a massive showpiece and there are not many companies around London that can supply a floor of this size, but On Tour Events can! It really did offer a great area for dancing which really got busy after a few bottles of complementary bubbles which were on offer at the start of the evening.
Now moving onto the lighting arrangement, due to the fact the temporary structure (marquee) was over 50m in length it was important that each area was illuminated for safety so people could see where they were going/ what they were doing. Also, to ensure anywhere you stood you were still part of the party/ production which was an important aspect the client reiterated- this was a party for people to enjoy. Lighting was programmed by one of our lighting engineers to offer static tungsten toned lighting at the beginning when people were arriving and getting their finger food, to then slowly faded colour mixes when the background music was playing to more upbeat manoeuvrability with different colour shades for when the party really kicked off. We did originally suggest having a couple of coloured lasers for a laser show but our clients weren’t keen on strobing lasers so opted for a light haze with moving heads instead for a more subtle party approach.
We placed 150 wireless battery powered uplighters inside and outside. The ones which were placed outside were specifically to light up trees and the entrance into the marquee guiding people inside. They had protective covers over them making them IP rated. They opted for white light outside to help with guiding people in.
The wireless uplighters inside were strategically placed around the sides of the marquee in the corporate colours of Virgin Atlantic- very effective! They have a battery life of between 8-10 hours which would be fine if it was just a 1 night event but this ran over 2 nights so we had to ensure we brought with us charging facilities to re boost them for the 2nd night. Luckily they are daisy chained together which cuts the amount of cable required, and they were grouped to ensure accessibility to power. This went for the LED furniture we supplied as well, this all needed to go on charge ready for the 2nd night!
It was important for the client to maintain as much floor space as possible, so lighting had to be flown and hung from the roof of the marquee. We placed 2 x 50m long trusses with just under 100 fixtures placed into the roof and additional lights being rigged onto the stage area via more flown truss. This was in addition to the large 5x3m screens we had either side of the stage. For this product we opted for our high performance 3.9mm pitch video screens. The video screens were hung on truss from the roof of the marquee again to allow for maximum floor space.
A live camera feed from the stage to the screens enabled the audience to clearly see what was happening and interact with the live entertainment as well as being used for general branding and visuals across the evening.
As an added extra without any additional costs we supplied a snow machine to give a little Christmas sparkle, we placed this just at the front of the marquee attached to one of the bits of truss, and set it on a timer strategically for when the guests started to arrive. It was a nice little add on to the impression set within the marquee to get people in the party mood.
Once we had setup for the first night, we didn’t have to get back onsite the next day until a couple of hours before ‘doors’ opened. When we arrived back the following day, we checked that everything was still operating as it should be, all the uplighters were fully charged and ensured we were ready for the band’s rehearsal.
Feedback from the first night was really positive and people loved the LED screens near the stage area, they felt really connected with the band and it felt more interactive as an audience letting their hair down. Many comments were passed onto our technician onsite about the overall look of the production with the lighting and how effective the LED furniture looked around the marquee.
Set up was tight, we had 1 day set up and then one day for rehearsals, same for the get out.
On the day of get out we had to be out after the event which ended at 3am, and off site by 6am.
We managed to get everything out and crew off site by 6am due to the proactive teamwork and hands on approach the guys took. Needless to say, this was a very tight timeframe and I do recall a few sweaty bodies mulling around but paid off as we managed to adhere to the end goal!
Our client has been putting this event on for the last 7 years and this was the first year we provided the production for it. They were absolutely delighted with the end result and both our client and their client thought it was a resounding success and a true event production representing the brief they gave us on our initial introduction, providing an impressive, enjoyable party atmosphere for their employees.
We were delighted they had requested our services for the next event, which is unfortunately postponed until the current Covid situation is somewhat resolved. Since then we have been in discussions for other event productions they are looking to put on between now and next Christmas and we very much look forward to returning to work with them again when it is possible.
On Tour Events: Technical Audio Visual Event Services London OFFICE & WAREHOUSE: +PHONE: 020 8058 0093 +MONDAY - FRIDAY 08:00 - 20:00 +EMAIL: INFO@ONTOUREVENTS.CO.UK +POST: Office 108 Belgrove House Belgrove Street, London, WC1H8AA +FACEBOOK.COM/EVENTPRODUCTIONHIRE +TWITTER.COM/ONTOUREVENTS +INSTAGRAM.COM/ONTOUREVENTS +Google My Busniuess Page & Reviews https://www.google.com/maps?cid=11919891004926379003